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Project researchers

meSch (Material EncounterS with digital Cultural Heritage) has the goal of designing, developing and deploying tools for the creation of tangible interactive experiences that will connect the physical experience of museums and exhibitions with relevant digital cross-media information in novel ways. The meSch envisioning and realisation approach is grounded on principles of co-design, the broad participation of designers, developers and stakeholders into the process, and on a Do-It-Yourself philosophy to making and experimentation.

The vision

The meSch project envisages a cultural space filled with smart objects, each with their own (adaptive) stories embedded therein, that will be revealed if and when conditions are right, e.g. visitors have reached the right time in the storyline, or a group of them is acting in a certain way, or another smart object is close by.

meSch overall scenario

meSch will bridge the gap between visitors’ cultural heritage experience on-site and on-line by providing a platform for the creation of tangible smart exhibits. This platform will enable curators, artists, designers and cultural heritage professionals in general to create smart objects and intelligent spaces and to compose digital content to be embedded in smart objects and spaces without the need for specialised technical knowledge. Smart objects (like a magnifying glass or a replica) are enriched with digital technology while intelligent spaces embed sensors: both react to people, spaces and smart objects. A bespoke application will adapt the content and the behaviour of the object or space to visitors, their social context and the environment. The overall production cycle for personalized experiences will be decomposed into four main steps: 1. Curators conceive a new exhibition, or an adaptation to an existing one, and select pivotal objects (possibly replicas) that have been augmented with digital capabilities through the embedding of miniaturized multisensory integration platforms (e.g. Arduino, .net Gadgeteer, Raspberry Pi) or of more traditional devices (e.g., an mp3 player or a smartphone of which only the screen is made visible). They edit or select from proprietary or public domain multimedia databases (like Europeana) suitable chunks of digital content related to the objects. 2. With the help of an authoring tool they assemble the chunks of content into threads of narration and select adaptive rules for their presentation. Similarly, they associate enabling (inter)actions over the objects to release the contents. The resulting structures for adaptive experiences are then downloaded onto the smart objects that will compose the exhibition. 3. Visitors approaching the smart objects at the exhibition site, either individually or in groups, will be able to experience the physical dimension of exhibits as well as the (social) engagement that may be favored by the tangible interaction coupled with the contextual delivery of mindful content such as a coherent story or an appropriate soundscape. 4. The logs of what visitors have experienced onsite, will translate into a digital souvenir that become the basis for a further personalized exploration online, after the visit.
4 years (February 2013 - January 2017)
meSch (2013-2017) receives funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme ‘ICT for access to cultural resources’ (ICT Call 9: FP7-ICT-2011-9) under the Grant Agreement 600851
Unit role: 

Within meSch, the FBK-i3 team focuses on extending the typical architectures for personalization in the cultural heritage domain, by designing a multistage personalization process that decouples the inner personalization algorithms from content management issues, thus making it easier to plugin new digital resources and new domains, and implements a range of services able to respond differently according to the specific personalization stage, i.e. to be used within the smart objects vs. to be used online, offered to the authors or to the visitors. The personalization process is being designed to include human-supervised content structuring and experience design required to get high quality results, an essential requirement for the enjoyment  of cultural heritage. The specific challenges of personalizing content and interaction for a scenario of tangible interaction with augmented objects and space are addressed.


Petrelli D., Ciolfi L., van Dijk D., Hornecker E., Not E., Schmidt A. (2013) Integrating material and digital: a new way for cultural heritage, in «INTERACTIONS», vol. 20, n. 4, July + August 2013, pp. 58 - 63 (ACM Digital Library, link)

Not E., Petrelli D., How Can Personalization Shape Social Action in Cultural Spaces?, in Väänänen-Vainio-Mattila K., Häkkilä J., Cassinelli A., Müller J., Rukzio E., Schmidt A. (eds.), Proceedings of "Experiencing Interactivity in Public Spaces (EIPS)", workshop at CHI'13, 2013, pp. 82-86, Paris, April 28, 2013 (link)

Not E., Petrelli D., Curators in the Loop: a Quality Control Process for Personalization for Tangible Interaction in Cultural Heritage, in Berkovsky S., Herder E., Lops P., Santos O.C. (eds.), UMAP 2013 Extended Proceedings, vol.Vol-997, 2013, (Workshop on Personal Access to Cultural Heritage (PATCH 2013), Roma, June 14, 2013 (link)

Not E.,Petrelli D., Balancing Adaptivity and Customisation: In Search of Sustainable Personalisation in Cultural Heritage,
in V. Dimitrova, T. Kuflik, D. Chin, F. Ricci, P. Dolog, G. Houben, User Modeling, Adaptation, and Personalization,
Springer International Publishing, vol.8538, 2014, pp. 405-410, (Proceedings of the 22nd Conference in User Modelling, Adaptation and Personalization, UMAP 2014,
Aalborg, Denmark, 7-11 July 2014) (link)

Petrelli D., Not E., Damala A., van Dijk D., Lechner M., meSch – Material Encounters with Digital Cultural Heritage,
in Ioannides M., Magnenat-Thalmann N., Fink E., Zarnic R., Yen A.-Y., Quak E. (Eds.), Digital Heritage,
Springer, vol.8740,2014, (Proceedings of EuroMed2014, 5th International Conference on Cultural Heritage. Documentation, Preservation, and Protection,
Limassol, Cyprus, November 3-8, 2014) (link)

Zancanaro M., Not E., Petrelli D., Marshall M., van Dijk T., Risseeuw M., van Dijk D., Venturini A., Cavada D., Kubitza T., Recipes for tangible and embodied visit experiences, MW2015: Museums and the Web 2015,2015, (MW2015: Museums and the Web 2015, Chicago, USA, April 8-11, 2015) (link)

Mark T. Marshall, Daniela Petrelli, Nick Dulake, Elena Not, Michele Marchesoni, Elisa Trenti, Anna Pisetti, "Audio-based Narratives for the Trenches of World War I: Intertwining Stories, Places and Interaction for an Evocative Experience", Int. J. Human-Computer Studies, Volume 85, January 2016, Pages 27–39, Special Issue on Data Sonification and Sound Design in Interactive Systems (eds. Sandra Pauletto, Howard Cambridge and Patrick Susini) (Science Direct link)

meSch Google Scholar profile: link

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